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PRESBYTER

In the early Church a member of a group (usually of priests) who advised a bishop. Together they formed the presbytery, which, under a bishop, was the governing body of a community. The presbyter having no official duties, he was often commissioned by the bishop to teach, celebrate Mass, and baptize. Presbyters were usually of advanced age and, like a bishop, chosen by the people. Their rank was above that of deacons but inferior to that of bishops. There was no restriction on their number.

All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

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